Thousands to kick off Independence Day on the run in Redondo Beach
by Randy Angel
For a quarter of a century, Riviera Village has been the spot for thousands of people to begin their 4th of July celebration in a healthy way while working up an appetite for the day’s festivities and, of course, food.
The 25th Annual Village Runner 4th of July 5K and Firecracker Dash for kids will take place Wednesday. The race is presented by UCLA Health.
“The reason I started it 25 years ago, was because I love to run and the Fourth of July is my favorite holiday,” race director Mike Ward said. It’s a great way for families to start off their Fourth of July holiday, doing something positive and enjoyable. It’s always nice to see 3,000 smiling faces in one place.”
Although an honored guest has not been selected at press time, Ward would like to acknowledge his longtime staff, which includes 25-year participants Russ Maier (announcer) and Lynda Habash (logistics) along with Paul Amarillas, who has overseen the Expo logistics for more than 20 years.
“I’d also like to thank all of the various Village Runner staff members who have helped to make this event a huge success, as well as the the tremendous support from the community which has been greatly appreciated.”
Ward remembers one of his most memorable compliments.
“It came from a grandfather who said that his grandchildren enjoyed their medal and American flags that they received in the kids’ dash so much that they went to bed clinging to both.”
It is uncertain if last year’s male and female winners, Juan Paredes and Valerie Sanchez, who happen to be a couple, will be competing.
“Juan hasn’t signed up yet, but the fast guys have a tendency to sign up at the last minute,” Ward stated.
If the couple decides to compete, Paredes will be going for three consecutive victories.
“We are actually not 100 percent sure if we will be competing again this year,” Paredes said. “We are still contemplating it. We took a 10-14 day break after the spring season and we just started training again. We will have to no real expectations if we do end up racing since we won’t be very fit to begin with. We would do it for fun and compete to the best of our abilities with the two weeks that we will have been running again.”
“It was exciting to win the race two years in a row,” Paredes said. “I love the community race and the atmosphere. It’s a cool course, a little challenging on the way up but it’s downhill at the end, making for fun finishes.”
Last year, Paredes posted a winning time of 15 minutes flat in 2017, besting Redondo Beach’s Stewart Harwell (15:09) and Torrance’s David Cardona (15:40).
Sanchez captured the women’s title last year with a time of 16:59 outpacing Redondo Beach’s D’ann Arthur (17:39) and Hermosa Beach’s Mary Ladnier (17:42).
Prior to the action on the course, the popular Costume Contest will be held at 7:15 a.m. Village Runner gift certificates will be presented to the top three finishers.
The 5K race begins at 8 a.m. and features T-shirts, chip timing, age division awards and cash prizes ($200, $125, $75) to the top three overall male and female runners.
The Firecracker Dash for kids begins at 9:30 a.m. with all finishers receiving medals. Running 1/4 mile distances will be the 10-12, 8-9 and 6-7 age groups. Kids 4-5 will run a shorter “dash.”
Fees are $40 for the 5K and $30 for the Firecracker Dash. Registration available online (villagerunner.com) or at Village Runner stores: 1811 S. Catalina Ave., Redondo Beach; 1840 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Manhattan Beach.
Portions of the proceeds go to Redondo Beach Educational Foundation.
Also, at 9:15 a.m. the annual $1,000 Pushup Challenge presented by GI Joe Charles takes place. The entry fee is $25 and can be made at eventbrite.com.
The 4th of July 5K festivities conclude at nearby Rock & Brews, where the awards ceremony and a raffle will take place. Participants bringing their race bib number will be offered special pricing.
by Randy Angel